Could you get any more niche? Not only does this beer not have any alcohol, it doesn’t even have any gluten (well, less than 6ppm).
When I was younger, I thought the gluten-free diet was a lifestyle choice. It sounded like an annoyingly contrary fad diet; the kind of thing revealed in a whiney, superior voice at a dinner party just as the host was dishing up, about two hours too late for them to do anything about it.
Fortunately, not everyone is as ignorant as I was. Which is a shame as competition is always nice.
There are two main groups of people for whom a gluten-free diet is very important: those with gluten intolerance (aka gluten sensitivity) and those with the autoimmune disorder Coeliac Disease (‘Celiac’ in North America).
Both groups are unfortunate enough to have small intestines that are affected by the protein known as gluten. Both are even more unfortunate in that they live in a world where it seems to get tossed into pretty much everything we prepare, almost as if it was everyone else’s gleeful intention to annoy them.
Thankfully, there are specialist manufacturers out there making everything from gluten-free variants of everything from communion wafers to, well, alcohol-free beer.
Not everyone with Coeliac disease is necessarily a non-drinker – alcoholic gluten-free beer exists too – but for those that are, this Spanish product would appear to be a good bet.
The label on the Ambar Green bottle says:
El gluten que contiene esta cerveza proviene de la malta de cebada que ha sido tratada para garantizar un contenido inferior a 6 ppm. El proceso utilizado mantiene el sabor y respeta las propiedades de Ambar Green siendo por su muy bajo contenido en gluten apta para celíacos.
Which translates to something like:
The gluten that this beer contains is from barley malt which has been treated to ensure a content of less than 6 ppm*. The process used keeps the flavour and respects the properties of Ambar Green being suitable for Coeliacs because of its very low gluten content.
And the taste? Personally, I found it watery and rather insipid, and what honey-like flavour it did have disappeared from the palate pretty rapidly. In my opinion it’s not as good as many non-alcoholic beers, but I’m sure it’s still preferable to the symptoms of Coeliac Disease; arguably the only comparison worth making. Well, except perhaps against other gluten-free non-alcoholic beers.
So yes, it’s niche, but then it’s right that niche products should exist. Why shouldn’t people with Coeliacs or gluten sensitivity have the opportunity to partake in the bizarre enigma that is non-alcoholic beer?
And if they’re missing the feeling of being drunk, they can just try and use the toilet on a moving coach. Does the trick for me every time.
UPDATE (AUG 2012): This product is now available from the UK-based Alcohol-Free Shop.